Chronology of Ruth, Annette, Charlotte, Meg, Rachel, Lizzie, and Grace

18 February 2014, 07:00



Editor’s note: Over the past two years Recovering Grace has posted interrelated stories of seven different women’s experiences working with Bill Gothard at IBLP Headquarters, and the overlapping relationships among these stories can be complex. The following is a brief chronology of the seven women’s narratives  posted on Recovering Grace: those of Ruth, “Annette,” “Charlotte,” “Meg,Rachel, “Lizzie,” and “Grace,” and the four related narratives of Larne (part of Ruth’s story), Dixie, Ryan, and Marcus. It is not a complete history of Campus Teams / IBYC / IBLP / ATIA / ATI, nor is it a complete history of all the women and girls who have had similar experiences with Bill Gothard. Please see also the chart of patterns in Gothard’s behavior with these individuals.

1970: Ruth, age 18, is pressured by Bill Gothard to leave college and come work at Campus Teams Headquarters in Illinois.

1971-73: Ruth becomes Bill Gothard’s personal secretary, and he asserts control over nearly every aspect of her life. Ruth is pressured to break off her relationship with Larne.

1971: “Meg” is born in Blenheim, New Zealand.

1973: “Annette” is born in Ohio.

1974: Campus Teams is rebranded as the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts (IBYC).

1975: “Charlotte” is born in California.

1976: Rachel is born in South Dakota.

1978: Ruth suffers a breakdown. Bill Gothard gives her a choice between an entry-level position at Headquarters and working for Steve Gothard at the Northwoods Conference Center. Ruth moves to live and work at Northwoods, and is soon targeted by Steve Gothard.

1979: Larne joins the IBYC staff as an airplane pilot. “Lizzie” is born in North Carolina.

1980: The IBYC scandal breaks. Ruth and Larne leave IBYC and marry. Steve Gothard permanently resigns from IBYC. “Grace” is born in Georgia.

1981–1983: Ruth, Larne, and other current and former Headquarters and Northwoods staffers attempt to address the issues of the IBYC scandals, including not only Steve Gothard’s but also Bill Gothard’s conduct with young female subordinates. Their efforts are stonewalled.

1984: The Advanced Training Institute of America (ATIA) homeschooling program is launched. Prospective ATIA parents are required to enroll all unmarried children in the program, and many, therefore, call sons and daughters to leave college to participate in the program. College-age ATIA young people begin working at IBYC Headquarters. Charlotte’s family joins ATIA, and some of her siblings leave college to go work at Headquarters.

1988: Dixie comes to IBYC Headquarters at the age of 17 and is told by Gothard that she is the first person under age 18 to work there.

1989: IBYC is rebranded as the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP).

FALL 1991: Annette, age 17, is offered sanctuary at Headquarters from her physically abusive home.


1992 IBLP trip to Russia

APRIL 1992: Ryan R., Charlotte, and Charlotte’s parents go on an IBLP trip to Russia with a very large group. Although Bill Gothard is on this trip, he and Charlotte do not meet.

JULY 1992: At the annual ATI conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, Rachel and Charlotte individually meet Bill Gothard for the first time. Charlotte is invited to Headquarters right away, and Rachel writes a letter to Gothard that results in an invitation to Headquarters not long after the conference. Marcus, age 17, travels from the Knoxville conference to Headquarters with staff.

JULY–AUGUST 1992: Rachel, age 15, arrives at HQ for a three week stay. She works in Gothard’s office for a week then moves to the ATI department. During these three weeks, Gothard fires Marcus for an alleged flirtation with Rachel. Bill connects with Rachel mostly at morning staff meeting and lunch, and begins pushing her boundaries of physical contact. Rachel leaves at the end of her scheduled three weeks to care for her mother. Marcus is allowed to remain at Headquarters until his parents’ planned visit, and is required to come to Gothard’s office every evening after work and remain as long as Bill is there. Marcus sees Bill in counseling situations with various individuals.

AUGUST 1992: Charlotte, age 16, travels to Headquarters and soon begins working on the landscaping crew with her brother. Her tenure and Marcus’s briefly overlap, but they do not work together. Gothard begins intensive counseling with Charlotte and spends a significant amount of time with her right away.

SEPTEMBER 1992: Gothard begins picking Charlotte up to meet very early in the morning most weekdays, and lies to Dixie that Charlotte has complained, effectively alienating Dixie from Charlotte. Gothard holds intensive morning counseling sessions with Charlotte alone, after a group Bible study and before morning staff meeting. Charlotte discloses to Gothard the part of her paternal sexual abuse that she remembers at that time, and Gothard blames her for “tempting” her father. One of Charlotte’s housemates raises alarm over Charlotte’s report of being hugged by Gothard, and Charlotte is summoned to a meeting with IBLP supervisors wherein she is sternly rebuked for this statement. Gothard privately instructs Charlotte to not speak of the physical component of their counseling relationship.

OCTOBER 1992: Charlotte, Rachel, and Dixie join Gothard and a large group on an IBLP trip to Australia and New Zealand. Meg, age 20, meets Gothard while the group is in New Zealand, and a few weeks later travels to IBLP Headquarters to begin working in Gothard’s office.

OCTOBER–DECEMBER 1992: Rachel works at Headquarters for two months following the Australia trip, and moves into the house with Charlotte as Dixie leaves Headquarters. Gothard adds late-night counseling sessions with Charlotte and becomes more physically transgressive, touching her breasts through clothing. Ryan and his brother see Charlotte and Gothard together late nights in Gothard’s office. Charlotte visits her parents and returns to Headquarters, and Gothard gropes Charlotte’s genitals through clothing on the car ride from the airport to Headquarters. Rachel is advised by Gothard to limit her conversation with and distrust Charlotte. Rachel travels to the Northwoods Conference Center with Gothard and a group of assistants, and Gothard escalates his physical behavior with her. Ryan leaves Headquarters.

JANUARY 1993: Charlotte’s brother successfully agitates for Charlotte, now age 17, to be sent home from Headquarters. Gothard kisses her on the lips at their last meeting, and she does not meet him in person again.

WINTER AND SPRING 1993: Meg becomes Bill Gothard’s correspondence secretary, and is soon asked to spend most early mornings and late evenings in his office.

SUMMER 1993: Meg travels extensively with Gothard, who escalates the physical and emotional intimacy of the relationship and takes her to a doctor for cosmetic removal of skin tags.

FALL 1993: Ruth and Larne take their final trip to Hawaii. Meg travels to Taiwan, Singapore, and Indonesia with Gothard and an IBLP group. Some of the group stop in Hawaii on the way back to Headquarters, and Meg faces possible deportation. Meg is able to return to Headquarters for several weeks but ultimately is required to leave the country and return to New Zealand. She never enters the United States again. ATIA is rebranded as the Advanced Training Institute International (ATII, soon shortened to ATI).

WINTER 1994: Lizzie, age 14, meets Gothard for the first time at an ATI Girls’ Counseling Seminar in Indianapolis, Indiana. Rachel is Lizzie’s team leader.

SPRING 1994: Ruth passes away.

SUMMER–WINTER 1994: Rachel, now age 17, returns to Headquarters on an open-ended basis. She works in various departments, accompanies Gothard and IBLP groups on international trips, and becomes a well-known face and voice in IBLP promotional materials.

SUMMER 1995: Rachel leaves Headquarters. Though she later works with IBLP on educational projects, speaking engagements, and international trips, she declines Gothard’s invitations to rejoin the Headquarters staff.

SEPTEMBER 1995: As a result of becoming romantically involved with another IBLP staffer, Annette is sent away from Headquarters, back to her physically abusive home. Within six months she has moved out and begun a new life in a different state.

SPRING and SUMMER 1997: Lizzie, now age 17, is pressured by Gothard to defer her plans to begin college in favor of working on a project at IBLP Headquarters. Lizzie accompanies Gothard on trips and is alarmed by the level of physical contact initiated by Gothard, but he assures her father that if she is uncomfortable with the physical behavior, it will cease.

FALL 1997: Lizzie travels to Headquarters to work in the Telos department. Gothard’s campaign of physical contact and attempted emotional intimacy resumes, while her intended project is killed. Grace, age 17, meets Gothard for the first time at an ATI Girls’ Counseling Seminar in Indianapolis and is invited to start working at Headquarters as soon as possible.

SUMMER 1998: Lizzie leaves Headquarters.

JANUARY 1999: Grace, now age 18, travels to Headquarters for a promised job in the finance or purchasing departments, and is assigned to a series of jobs in unrelated departments. She quickly becomes uncomfortable with the physical attention Gothard shows her.

SUMMER 2000: Grace leaves Headquarters.

All articles on this site reflect the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of other Recovering Grace contributors or the leadership of the site. Students who have survived Gothardism tend to end up at a wide variety of places on the spiritual and theological spectrum, thus the diversity of opinions expressed on this website reflects that. For our official statement of beliefs, click here.


  1. Amanda February 18, 2014 Reply

    It almost seems that there was some sort of " convergent point" in 1992.. That something, such as Gothard's internal pressures for sexual gratification, and taunting the girls, and personal power needs, all came to a stormy clash in 1992. MANY of the wrongdoings we know about at this time seemed to happen in the early 90's.

    Does anyone who was inside the Gothard empire at the time have an idea as to what pressure he might have internalized in 1992? Did one of his parent die in the early 90's?
    Did a sibling die, or marry in the early 90's? Did anything happen inside his autocracy that would cause him to choose to act out sexually in that specific time frame in ways which were WILDLY public? He ran a tremendous risk of being seen by adults for a few years, at least.

    Also, I know this is tangential, but what happened to his brother, Steve after the Northwoods scandal and resignation/ firing? Is he alive? Did he marry? Is he " around" the Gothard family?
    Has anyone ever wondered how many children he may have fathered? I know I have, and it makes me sick for the women sent there for years who were preyed upon. Most had to be innocents, and certainly without birth control.

    The summaries posted today have helped me understand the timelines much better. Thank you for doing the work with what testimonies you have at this point.

    God bless and keep the survivors. I pray for you all, and for Larne.

    • Steve (not Gothard) February 18, 2014 Reply

      While I was there in the early 2000s, Bill went to visit a brother and there was a big deal about reconciling. I don't remember who because I wasn't anywhere near as familiar with any of this at the time. All I remember was packing up about 10 pizzas for Bill to take with him on the plane. So if this was Steve he was talking about, he was alive still at that point at least.

      • RyanR February 18, 2014 Reply

        Bill Gothard has a second brother named David. I never heard mention of either brother when I was on staff in 1992, so I have no idea whether they were estranged too?

        At the risk of sounding mean, it's rather ironic now how guilty I used to feel about not having the best relationships with my siblings because Bill taught that siblings should be best friends. And yet, clearly, the Gothard family was not without its own struggles.

        I have to wonder to what degree is that teaching even Biblical vs. Bill just trying to create in OUR families what he evidently did not have in his own.

        • Larne Gabriel February 18, 2014

          Bill has two brother's Steve and Dave. I remember in 1980 I flew Dave to the Northwood and he told me he was being considered to replace Mr. Gothard Sr. as the head of the finance department. But for some reason did not take the position. At the time Dave was living in the San Jose, CA area and was involved in investments of some type......... I understand he lives in Florida now. Steve and his wife have their own small business a long way from Chicago.

          Larne Gabriel

    • Lisa Joy February 18, 2014 Reply

      Amanda, these behaviors have been going on for years, as you can see. There HAVE been girls whose stories happened more recently, but for various reasons their stories are not on Recovering Grace. Yet. (Remember that with the "programming" we received, it usually takes *years* to first realize the abuse/harassment, and then they must "just happen" to find Recovering Grace at the same time that they're willing to tell their story.) I'm convinced that these other girls are out there, but they're not *here* yet.

    • "Hannah" February 18, 2014 Reply

      I could agree on the "convergent point", if I didn't think there were simply many more girls out there that we just don't know about, yet. I would not be at all surprised if it has always been this way, and the girls who have now come forward are just a small cross-section of his victims.

      • Sarah February 18, 2014 Reply

        So far all stories have been so long ago they can not be used in court. If there are girls with more recent tales, it would be important that their stories not be released publicly. To do so would make their testimony in court less valuable. I hope that these older stories will give courage to those who have been recently harmed, and they can build a case that will force Mr. Gothard to remove himself from his position as "counselor".

    • Lori February 18, 2014 Reply

      Amanda, maybe this will help:

      "Bill Gothard was seen by staff employees patting and fondling women employees. Later, he admitted in staff meetings that these actions were 'moral failures' on his part." Los Angeles Times, April 5, 1982

      It started a long time ago and was pervasive then. No reason to think it's either stopped or slowed yet, IMO. :)

  2. Beth February 18, 2014 Reply

    It seems there were several women with stories like these in the 70s, contemporaries of Ruth. Then the ministry crashed in scandal, childless bachelor Bill reinvented the business with homeschooling, and the staff girls got even younger. There were some ATIA students at Headquarters in the mid to late 80s, but the place really got jumping during the early to mid 90s crescendo of ATI. With the exception of Ruth and Larne from the IBYC generation, the people in this chronology were teenagers or in their early twenties when they worked at Headquarters, and are now in their thirties and forties with years of life experience behind them. The stories didn't stop, they still haven't stopped, but the more recent stories are not yet public. It just takes people a few years to see and understand what was really happening underneath the facade of piety used to entrap earnest young people. I think the young staffers currently at Headquarters will be able to see much more quickly than did previous Gothard generations, because they have access not just to doubts whispered among friends but to the shouted testimony and warning of those who have stood where they now stand.

    • Brandon February 18, 2014 Reply

      This makes alot of sense Beth

      • Lori February 18, 2014 Reply

        Yes, I think so too.

    • Mark R February 18, 2014 Reply

      Here are some more things to consider.

      Prior to the 1980 scandal, IBYC was not anywhere near as cultish as it would become. People were coming to Seminars, but they were also actively involved in their churches. And in most cases, they were sending their kids to public schools, and afterwards to public colleges and universities.

      The 1980 scandal forced many churches to re-examine Gothard and IBYC, and as pastors spoke from pulpits against Gothard's teachings they implicitly (if not explicitly) told their members to choose between the church and IBYC. You know these "evil reports" of people who wanted to follow the "chain of authority"/"umbrella of protection", but can't because the pastor is forcing them to either leave IBYC or leave the church, were coming back to Gothard.

      The 1980's is also a "perfect storm" of events geared to create a monster such as ATIA. Many major denominations are in the throes of theological debate (the Southern Baptist Convention was in the midst of its "Fundamentalist/Moderate" controversy). It doesn't take much to believe that a pastor who is opposing IBYC/Gothard has simply "turned liberal"

      Also, homeschooling begins to become a popular choice for families wishing to escape the "secular humanism" of public schools but not being able to afford private school tuition. The house church movement is also growing around this time.

      ATIA is the perfect program for families feeling persecuted by both secular government and church government. Join our program, pull all your kids out of all government-sponsored education programs (and don't worry about that "umbrella" thing, that applies only to our umbrella over you, so go ahead and leave the non-supportive church).

      By 1992 you have families that have been in ATIA for eight years. Someone who was 14-17 at that time would have been 6-9 in 1984, having spent their entire formative years within the ATIA cult. Having been ostracized from any church (and from any other influence) that would dare teach them Gothardism is wrong, there would be no frame of reference against which to compare ATIA, for either the children or the parents.

      • Shelley Randolph Romey February 18, 2014 Reply

        What boggles my mind is that my family knew nothing about the 1980 scandal. My parents had been going to seminars and started taking us to them as soon as we were old enough. We joined ATI for the 1986/1987 school year but had already been homeschooling for a while. That was not the goal in joining. If my parents had heard even the slightest hint of what had happened in 1980 we would have run so far in the opposite direction. It was not as easy in those times to get info like we do today. We couldn't search someone on the Internet. It was much easier for BG and staff to keep things covered up. I didn't even low about the books that came out later.

        I'm glad we have the Internet and social media now. Hopefully news will travel quickly to anyone still in dangernn

        • kevin February 18, 2014

          The fact that your family would have steered clear of ATI had they known about the 1980s scandal, is why I am certain Gothard is tthrough now. The word is spreading like wildfire and is and will continue to be at everyone's fingertips. I don't know anyone that does not use the internet to do a little due diligence before moving forward with something as simple as a math curiculum, let alone an entire program or way of life. I really don't see him getting many new recruits with these revelations and really believe he is done.

        • Matt February 19, 2014


          I'll bet Gothard will counter with a new teaching about the inherent evil of the internet. It'll have the same demon power as rock music. It's easy enough to dredge up scary stories of people hurt or killed by connections they've made online. Tell some of those stories at a seminar, get people scared for their kids' safety, and you can keep them from looking online at this stuff. It wouldn't surprise me at all if this became a new major doctrine for Gothard soon.

        • Ann February 19, 2014

          I didn't know anything about this scandal until I happened to look up BG on Wikipedia about a year ago. It made mention of BG's moral failure, but it just didn't compute because I never heard anyone else mention it, so I brushed it off. The sad part is, if it had been anyone else I would have started some research to get to the bottom of it. Thankfully a friend told me about Recovering Grace. We are NOT going to the conference as planned and NOT renewing our membership in ATI. There were always things that bothered me about some of the teachings. I just ignored them because the conference speakers were good and we enjoyed fellowship with the other families. Thankfully our children our too young to participate in the many "opportunities" provided by the ministry.

        • Shelley Randolph Romey February 19, 2014

          Kevin, I pray you're right. It's so easy to find info now! My prayer is that somehow parents of girls who are there now will find this information. If I knew anyone in this position now I would make sure to send it to them.

        • carolfoasia August 30, 2014

          Shelley, I did not know either! I went to a Institute in Basic Youth Conflict in Seattle in 1983 at age 24. I was just leaving being on staff in a full-time Christian organization that had some "cult-like" tendencies, but nothing like I am reading here If I had known about the scandal and cover up in 1980, I never would have gone! My husband is looking for that red book in my boxes of old books, and we are going to burn it. I am aghast as I read these stories. I would have given him a piece of my mind had I gone to his headquarters! (Sorry, but I am 6'2" tall so would not have been on his "prey" list.)

      • esbee February 19, 2014 Reply

        "I'll bet Gothard will counter with a new teaching about the inherent evil of the internet."

        AND top of the list of sites to avoid will be RG, replete with samples of the stories that show the rebellion of the authors and commentators, having gotten out from under the umbrella and are spreading evil tales about poor Mr. B. With a grave warning using the OT verse "on the day you eat of it, you shall surely die!"

      • Wounded by ATI February 19, 2014 Reply

        That pretty sums up my life! Got into ATI in mid-80's when I was 6 and all my training of who God is was centered in IBLP ideology. Now, I have to re-program my mind around God's Word!

  3. Bethany February 18, 2014 Reply

    Thank you so much for posting this! I hope that it will continue to be updated as more women share their stories.

    Amanda, I honestly wonder if there was actually more activity in '92 or if that's simply the best documented at the moment and in another five or ten years we'll be able to see it was just standard fare.

    • Lisa Joy February 18, 2014 Reply

      Bethany, I believe it's the latter - the '92 era is the best documented at the moment.

  4. TiaraLi February 18, 2014 Reply

    This makes me wonder - is there a current victim/s, and if so, who is she? Has anybody read this and thought to help her? The list of Gothard's process should make it relatively easy for those there to see who is at risk. Is there anybody at HQ who is willing to care? Or are they all too busy pretending that everything's fine?

    • TiaraLi February 18, 2014 Reply

      Sorry, just to clarify - I am not claiming anybody here does not care or has not done anything to help. Giving a place for these stories to be aired and having attempted to engage Bill Gothard in the past, which RG and many individuals have done, is wonderful. What I meant was that those who are in danger are unlikely to see this. Those who are writing this are unlikely to have any contact with those who are in danger to personally help them. I know some of Gothard's supporters are lurking around here. Please understand - you have seen documented evidence of Gothard's MO. If you read this, and if you refuse to see if anybody needs help because you don't want to know, or if you refuse to act if there is someone in danger that you do know of, then you are personally responsible for a person's harm.

      • Heidi February 18, 2014 Reply

        No worries TiaraLi,

        No, I don't think that it's because they don't care. Not at all. It's just hard to see reality when you are a mind control victim in a cult. (I was once as were many here.)

        I love how Meg's story takes us into the mind of the victim and we see exactly how things happened. How each step left her more and more trapped.

  5. Amanda February 18, 2014 Reply

    Thank you all for your insights. I was never a part of anything related to Bill Gothard or his machine.

    When I found this website, and when the recent postings have appeared with the ladies' stories, I actually went to the only pastor I trust and told him how burdened my heart was for the suffering of the innocent girls.

    Isn't Bill 80? Could he still be sexually harassing young girls? WHERE are their mothers and fathers? Aren't girls more aware now and more likely to call 911 or at least get out? I don't live in an ATI/ ILBP world, so I thought this was over years ago.

    I feel so sick. I will pray for all who are still possibly affected. I know a leopard doesn't change its spots, but even leopards get too old to leap, lunge, go for the jugular. God help us all. How long will this evil man rule over the best of the best of our young?

    I cry.

    • Sarah M February 18, 2014 Reply

      You're very kind. A lot of people coming here that don't know IBLP don't get it, and some tend toward victim blaming. We need more supportive people like you. Glad you stopped by. :-)

    • Lori February 18, 2014 Reply

      Yes, if there's anyone out there who has a way of seeing that the young women at HQ are afforded awareness of of what RG is revealing (in a discreet, loving, and understanding way), please do what you can. (And please get counsel as to how to go about that, unless you are quite mature and really know what you're doing.)

    • Beth June 14, 2014 Reply

      "Where are their mothers and fathers?"

      There is a family that I grew up with - our moms were always pregnant (over, and over, and over!) at the same time. They are still in ATI, my parents left it over 15 years ago. It crushes me to think that when my sister and I post articles from RG on Facebook the Mother of this family (incidentally all the daughters in the family are gorgeous: tall, thin, with long curly hair...) is grieved and refuses to accept the truth in the accusations. Why? Because we are now apostates and it is our "Christian duty" to forgive BG.

      That is where at least one mother is.

  6. Allen February 18, 2014 Reply

    I have come to understand, "Gothardese," a new language. Some examples:

    (1) Sexual harassment and the fondling a girl is referred to as, "leading on," a girl, or of, "defrauding," her. The implication is that she has had her expectations raised, and has a right to expect more? Sick.

    (2) A 60 year old man hugging and playing footsie with teenage girls, is referred to as, "being affectionate."

    (3) Controlling every aspect of a young person's life is labelled, "protection."

    (4) Refusing to be controlled is defined as, "rebellion," or the sin of witchcraft, exposing us to the realm of Satan.

    (5) Teaching, "another gospel" -- that of destructive legalism -- is called, "having high standards."

    (6) Grace is defined as, "the desire and power to do God's will," which is simply another way of claiming that grace puts us right back under the law. In reality, grace is not a THING -- it is not a desire or a power. Grace and Truth came in the PERSON, Jesus Christ.

    (7) "The umbrella of protection," is the means by which God speaks to us, and is the means by which we keep right with God in His will, and protected from the realm of Satan. In reality, it is a denial of Jesus as the ONLY mediator between God and man, and a false teaching which destroys the personal relationship with God.

    (8) "Freedom in Christ," is LICENSE in Gothardese. There is simply no frame of reference outside of law keeping.

    (9) Finally, there is no Gothard term for the reality of, "Christ in you," because in Gothardism there is no frame of reference for Him -- only legalistic substitutes.

    • Lori February 18, 2014 Reply

      Thank you, Allen! You summed it up EXTREMELY well. (Are you a pastor?)

    • Stephanie February 18, 2014 Reply

      What a helpful glossary! Thank you, Allen.

    • "Hannah" February 19, 2014 Reply

      Right on!!

    • Elizabeth M. February 19, 2014 Reply

      Regarding your first point, in ATI defrauding encompassed a wide range of behavior. It could certainly include the behaviors you described but more often it referred to anything a teen or young adult did which might lead a member of the opposite sex to conclude that that person was attracted to them or had romantic feelings towards them if that person had not obtained parental permission and was ready to pursue marriage. I believe the definition was "stirring up desires one can not righteously satisfy." I say that to say this: Gothard was always adamant that the details of sin not be discussed publicly. The problem with this is that both the teenage guy who chatted with a girl for a quarter of an hour and Gothard in the cases RG has made public would confess to the exact same thing: defrauding. It is a word which has smeared the reputations of countless students who were acting in appropriate and normal ways and whose interaction contained no physical component at all but allows those who commit more serious offenses to hide behind a veneer which conceals the true horror and sinister character of their actions.

    • Cyndi Winzeler March 5, 2014 Reply

      I am truly sorry in how so many have been hurt by this man's actions. But at the same time, what you call Gothardese is not honestly so. The things apparently done were in direct conflict with all taught! At ATI seminars it was acknowledged that all needed to warn those teaching such things (as we had all heard legalistic horror stories of Gothardites)and take them to Scripture. Freedom in Christ WAS taught, but obviously not lived by Mr Gothard.

      • greg r March 5, 2014 Reply

        Not trying to parse what you wrote, but:

        1)the fact that YOU and others taught "freedom in Christ" is commendable; sounds like you filled in where Bill was lacking
        2)the charge "Gothardese" seems to still hold: Bill himself taught, explicityly or (often worse yet) implicityly the list above; Are any of these examples unfair or off target ?? which ones ?
        3)glad you offered something better

      • Allen March 5, 2014 Reply

        The issue here is NOT and never will be, whether someone had a bad experience or was abused. I'm not minimizing that -- but it is another issue. The real issue is whether what Gothard teaches is the TRUTH. Is it Christianity? If not, then all the wonderful experiences in his system does not alter the fact that those under it are deceived.

        • MatthewS March 5, 2014

          Agreed that if he is not teaching truth, then all the happy stories in the world doesn't make it right, and if what he is teaching IS truth, then it will survive all of his unhappy failures. My belief is that his teachings are built on a foundation of sand, including this core concept "Every problem in life can be traced to seven non-optional principles found in the Bible. Every person, regardless of culture, background, religion, education, or social status, must either follow these principles or experience the consequences of violating them." That statement misses the point of the message offered by the one who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

        • grateful March 5, 2014

          very well put, Matthew. I had forgotten how it was stated so boldly that these were non-optional principles. One thing I've learned in my walk is that God is unpredictable. duh :)

        • greg r March 5, 2014

          @Matthew: well said, I will add (and this is something easier for an 'outsider' to see, I think) that the principles are not scripture, they are INTERPRETATIONS of scripture, and are only as 'scriptural' as the interpretation is solid. there is the teacher layer in between the bible and the hearer. this is not bad, it is unavoidable for any teacher, but in Gothard's case , it needs to be brought up frequently.
          Bill was , I think , fond of saying "one interpretation, many applications". He had the second part right, the first part is DEAD WRONG. that is, if you are talking about human beings (like BIll and us) doing the interpreting. end of rant

  7. Lauren February 18, 2014 Reply

    This chronology is so helpful in pulling the pieces together! Thank you for publishing.

  8. Non ATI Supporter February 18, 2014 Reply

    Wanting to throw in as a supporter of RG's efforts. I have friends who were involved in ATI. I never was, indeed, I'm not even a Christian, but it greatly saddens me how many good Christian people have been hurt by this man. Keep on fighting the good fight, and don't be afraid to utilize secular news outlets as necessary. There are many people not intimately involved with ATI who are and will be outraged by the behaviors well documented here.

  9. Kristi February 18, 2014 Reply

    Wow, I had no idea how narrowly I missed being swept up in ATIA. I was away at college and got married in 1986, just before my parents first enrolled with my younger siblings. I did not know that all unmarried children were required to leave college and be part of the program. I would not have gone along with that without a fight! I was already on the outs with my parents about "stepping out of their umbrella of protection" by daring to move far from home to go to Bible college at age 21. What a rebel I was!

    I am just heartbroken for all of the lives that were damaged by this man. God bless all of you who have had the courage to share your stories.

    • Brumby February 19, 2014 Reply

      Yes, after joining ATI when I was 10, I was raised to believe that I would never attend college (it was full of evil!), would only marry at an age of my father's choosing, and would marry whom he chose. If I chose, I did not have to marry who he chose, but then I would remain single for my entire life since that was who God's Best Choice had been for me and I would have rejected him. I would slave for the Lord the rest of my life.

      I'm so glad I "rebelled" and got the heck out!

      • Cyndi Winzeler March 5, 2014 Reply

        I am sorry that was how you were taught in ATI,but please realize that was never what ALL received from it or taught that it taught. It is not even close to my experience, or those I have been in contact with over the more than 25 years of being with the program.

        • MatthewS March 5, 2014

          Cyndi, fwiw, I'll be one voice to say I'm glad your experience was different and better. I wish for those (like you) who were not hurt to acknowledge the pain experienced by some, but it's only fair to acknowledge in return that there are those for whom it was a positive and good experience.

  10. M February 18, 2014 Reply

    I am not in any way condoning Bill Gothard's inappropriate behavior, but I'm not clear on the point or healthiness of these timelines with everyone chiming in their personal experiences. It is indeed saddening reading these stories and I do believe the individuals have experienced deep hurt and pain and his inappropriate actions have caused many to stumble - but isn't the point of recovering grace, as written in the mission statement, to "provide sound teaching, especially in the areas emphasized by Bill Gothard, "to help safely guide these people from bondage to freedom without the fear and anguish", and "to help those in this group “reprogram” according to the truths found in God’s word"? Frankly, there are some definite areas in my life that have been affected by some of his teachings, but biblical studies exposition on those topics which have been twisted or misinterpreted would help and benefit me the best. I have too much going on in my personal life and too many "issues" of my own to further listen to this regurgitation. Please get back to your original mission!

    • TiaraLi February 18, 2014 Reply

      And what about the victims of sexual harassment? They don't matter? What about the girls who are currently in danger at headquarters? They don't matter? We should all stay silent on criminal matters because it makes your head hurt? What? You're the only one who matters here?

      I can certainly see that you've been harmed by the teachings of Gothard, maybe more than you know. I suspect you should try a bible study on compassion and love. Might be a good place to start.

    • Beth February 18, 2014 Reply

      I think this timeline is just a quick organizer, and answers some of the questions have have come up a lot in the comments. Several of these girls are mentioned in one another's articles since their time at headqaurters overlapped. Some people wondered how Bill Gothard could be focusing all this emotional and physical attention on a lot of these girls around the same time, what with all the alone time in the early mornings and late nights. When the stories are all set side by side, we see that it's because he was constantly cultivating the next teenage girl to replace the girls who began to bore him or outgrew his games, and he was rotating different girls in and out of the early mornings, work day, mealstimes, van and car trips, international trips, and on and on.

      It also shows the inaccuracy of all the well-meaning speculations by commenters, and some of the girls' family and associates at the time, that Gothard had "honorable intentions" to pursue one of these girls for marriage and just went about it badly. If Rachel or Meg had been open to a future marriage to Gothard and had stayed at headquarters with that thought, willing to accept his continual violations of all the courtship principles and rules he preaches, they would have had the same kind of hellish decade Ruth did in the 1970s, with Gothard neither moving the relationship into honest declaration of love and commitment nor "allowing" them to be open to other suitors. He would have continued to demand their complete loyalty and undivided affections while never giving his in return.

      The only good part of this chronology is that all the girls eventually got out of there, whether they were thrown or they ran. This can't happen soon enough for whatever girls Bill's pawing at now.

      • M February 19, 2014 Reply


        I really appreciate your thoughtful and respectful response to my thoughts and questions. That helps me understand a bit better. Unfortunately, to respond to the other comments would only lower me to their level, as I communicated in my original post my sadness to learn and understand of what has gone on in the past and possibly currently. My questioning the healthiness of posting timelines and experiences does not negate in any way the sympathy and pain I feel for those who have been harrassed. It is simply a "what now"? question.

      • M February 19, 2014 Reply


        I really appreciate your thoughtful and respectful response to my thoughts and questions. That helps me understand a bit better. Unfortunately, to respond to the other comments would only lower me to their level, as I communicated in my original post my sadness to learn and understand of what has gone on in the past and possibly currently. My questioning the healthiness of posting timelines and experiences does not negate in any way the sympathy and pain I feel for those who have been harassed. It is simply a "what now"? question.

    • Heidi February 18, 2014 Reply

      M, did you happen to miss this one here?

      Completely explains what Recovering Grace is up to these days and why.

      But goodness, feel free to peruse the entire site, as there are plenty of doctrinal exposes available as well.

      and where is your compassion for and desire to warn the current victims?


  11. Tiffany February 18, 2014 Reply

    My experience with BG's impropriety is hardly worth mentioning, and yet it happened during that same Russia trip (April 1992). I waited in line after dinner one night to talk to BG. Before I could even ask my question, he started complimenting my hair, moving so close I was very, very uncomfortable. I backed up a step, and then another, and in that huge Ismailova hotel dining room, with quite a few people around, he was somehow still far too close. Afterward I thought that I might have forgotten to speak up and perhaps he was hard of hearing. Now I, too, want to know what the hell was going on that year.

  12. Sue February 19, 2014 Reply

    It is so hard for me to understand how so many of our well meaning friends got sucked into this. Of course we almost did too as homeschoolers but thankfully we didn't. However, we have been impacted in negative ways from our friends who bought in to the "legalistic Cult" and then expected us to do the same if we were going to be good Christians! I can't thank the Lord enough for keeping us from this Cult!!

  13. Daniel February 19, 2014 Reply

    I know this is a really sensitive topic, but I'm making a list of the "Gothard Girls" in my mind...ones not mentioned here. The young hotties that suddenly got promoted to speaking at Knoxville or Counseling Seminars just based on a "bright" countenance and bubbly personality.

    I won't name names, but I remember in the mid 90's a young lass speaking to the Knoxville "Apprenticeship Students" about how she had kissed courtship goodbye until age 21, or something like that. Not to demean her personally, but there were a lot of less attractive/ glamorous girls that could have given the same message. She definitely had more makeup/hair/style than your average student.
    Suddenly she was a rock star within the Institute. That same year, she was at the, gasp, Young Men's Counseling Seminar! I can still remember her "Hello Boys!"

    Mr. G was:

    1. Very aware of her personal attractive qualities (creepy eh?).
    2. Willing to use said qualities to sell a product- single service in ministry (um seeing a pattern here)?
    3. Staffing the Training Centers with cheap labor that was often motivated by a mirage. For guys, it was the mirage of rubbing shoulders with these fantastic girls while serving single. For girls, it was meeting a studly COO "Chief Overheadprojector Operator" and getting a slice of Mr. G's approval.

    I remember "boys" racing to the podium after that session to "Commit" years of single service. Each one committed more than the last. I remember one dude saying that he was giving the next seven years of his life as a single servant. Applause.

    • Eddie February 19, 2014 Reply


      I remember that too- years later, I had the chance to befriend her and her family. Oddly enough, she was pretty genuine and lots of fun. Granted, at first I was really sceptical of her but...I saw her through some tough times and she passed the test of being legit to me.

      Her whole family was like that....really down to earth, after getting around their striking looks and gregarious personality. Their parents were level headed ppl and I think they learned from them. I remember talking at length with her youngest sister ( I was closer to her) about the pedestal they were placed on....she hated it

  14. Lynn February 19, 2014 Reply

    Ann, it is good to know that this site has helped one current family get out before damage is done.

  15. David February 19, 2014 Reply

    Paul told the Galatians that they were deceived by, "another gospel." He said that Christ was of no effect to them. But I will guarantee you that the Galatians thought that they were simply holding to high standards and were a prime example of what God wanted in a church. Read that epistle. They were law keepers -- GOD'S law. But they were completely blind to the Truth in Jesus Christ. When people like the Gothardites are deceived by their false gospel, they interpret everything through it. To them, all of this control and oppression and law IS normal and IS Christianity. They are deceived. As for any moral failures, they are dismissed, because the people in such organizations continue to hold to the teachings. They point to how they have been blessed and helped by Gothard's ministry. Do they realize that JW's and Mormons say the same thing about their respective churches? That every cult has their stories of financial blessings and healings? None of those things, in themselves, prove the Truth. Jesus Christ is the Truth. Christianity is not a system of law. He is not captured on an overhead projector. Christianity is Christ in us. Paul told the Galatians, "I travail until Christ be formed in you." This was his answer to their deception. It is also the answer to Gothardism. Christ must be formed in us -- the Greek means, "to inwardly realize and express." But we like to impose law on the outward and call it Christianity. No. As is evidenced by some of Bill's fans comments here and elsewhere, the blindness here is often TOTAL. They cannot accept that they could be under a false gospel. But they are. IBLP is easily a poster boy for Galatianism -- and I am being kind. I sincerely believe that God is bringing light at this time and some will turn, but others will harden. IBLP is at yet another crossroads.

    • Becky February 20, 2014 Reply


      Please keep preaching, brother. Your comments are wise and I hear God's truth in them. Every one I've read so far has helped me.

  16. […] women and girls over a course of several decades at the Institute headquarters. You can read the numerous testimonies over on Recovering Grace. Please heed the trigger warning for sexual […]

  17. Elissa February 20, 2014 Reply

    Have lawyers been consulted? Briefly looking up the legal parameters of reporting Sexually related crimes, which is exactly what have been detailed in the self reports are different for each state in the United States. Some states have no statute of limitations. I briefly researched Illinois statutes and the youngest victim listed, "Lizzie" is still viable as a reporter. The reason this should be reported is that this could still be currently happening today to more young children. Even if the statute has passed for your state, reporting to the hotline (1-800-656-HOPE) would put authorities on alert for future reports that could come in. He has ruined enough lives. Those who can report should take this step for those who may currently be in danger. I urge those who read this to report their abuse.

  18. Amanda February 21, 2014 Reply

    The articles which have been written in the past two days about the Scandal and the young women who were so hurt from the 70's forward, and the lengths the two Gothard brothers and their parents went to in order to hide the sins and the hurting of innocent people have helped me understand the breadth and scope of the abuses in all areas: Spiritual, emotional, economical, and physical.

    I have a theoretical question to put forth: Would it be possible for an expert on the topics of all of the Gothard family's wrongdoings ( criminal acts in many cases) to present all the info that RG has to an undercover policeman or FBI agent, preferably a young female or young male who does undercover work at high schools due to looking youthful and see what Gothard is still doing? Catch him overworking minors? Catch him coercing the young women?

    Note- I added the FBI due to the fact that the Mann act was violated repeatedly by taking women across state lines for the purpose of sexual acts ( Oak Brook to wherever, and especially to Northwoods), thus the FBI does have a basis to get involved if they want to do so.

    If I am not part of the solution, then I am a part of the problem. I KNOW there are undercover law enforcement at every level who can and do pass for high schoolers as part of investigations within the school. One of them might have a young child, or be a Christian who can feel empathy like I and others do..

    Could all of us who are Christians please pray that God will send RG administrators to someone with the legal authority to stop Gothard?
    And, for the protection of the Holy Spirit for those in jeopardy now, of course.

    I never had a child to love and protect, so for me, all these young women and young men are MY children spiritually.
    I love you all. I pray for you without ceasing.

    God bless.

    • horse February 21, 2014 Reply

      I thought of this too, but unless that person was already in place before all this broke, it's really too late at this point. This website is no secret.

  19. […] […]

  20. Lori M. April 25, 2014 Reply

    Does it ever strike anybody as funny that this institution kept re-naming itself? I wonder if it was to make them harder to keep up with if any news were to actually break of all the ugly going on, on the inside? Always wondered the reasoning behind this?

  21. Richard August 1, 2022 Reply

    I recently stumbled onto RG. I went to IBYC in 1975, 81, and 82. In the Christian circles I was associated with BG was held in high esteem. Seeing all of this came as a surprise to say the least.

    My heart goes out to those girls and young women who had their sincere desire to serve Christ abused. I'm thankful that they are coming forward and have taken him to court.

    What has struck me over and over as I read their testimonies is that BG should have gotten married when he was young like so many of us did. And he would have grown emotionally and not duplicated needing to be involved with a young woman. And because he did not marry he entered into sin. So sad. So needless. So like a Pharisee.

    Thank you RG for all you have done and continue to do.

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